SOLIDARITY WITHOUT BORDERS
FCA Global Union Alliance Plans First U.S. Conference in Detroit
Mar 09, 2017
By Ron Russell
Union leaders whose members work at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Group around the world will convene next week to seek solutions to problems of mutual concern to the company and its unions.
The UAW is among 12 unions from eight countries expected to send delegates to the FCA-CNHind Global Union Network Conference taking place March 14-16 at the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center in Detroit.
UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, director of the union’s Chrysler Department, is scheduled to address two-dozen conference delegates.
UAW President Dennis Williams is co-chair of the Geneva, Switzerland-based IndustriALL Global Union’s auto sector. The Global Union represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors. It advocates better working conditions and trade union rights, as well as fighting for social and economic justice.
“Once, we could focus on bargaining the best possible contracts in the U.S. and ignore the rest of the world; today, we do so at our peril,” Williams said. “A strong and collaborative global labor movement can ensure that basic international labor standards are enforced and respected.
“We must build more and better company networks at UAW employers, moving beyond information sharing to joint strategy and action.”
The FCA-CNHind Global Union Network, which is affiliated with IndustriALL, has held annual meetings since 2011, but this is the first time that delegates have assembled in the United States.
Besides the U.S., delegates will come from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Italy, Poland and Switzerland. About 300,000 workers are employed at FCA Group and CNH plants worldwide. CNH Industrial N.V. manufactures heavy equipment and commercial vehicles.
Delegates are looking forward to a presentation by Glenn Shagena, Head of Employee Relations, FCA – North America.
Shagena is scheduled to provide an update on FCA US products, the company’s current situation and its future investments. He also will answer questions from delegates about his presentation.
Jewell said the conference provides an opportunity for unions representing workers at FCA and CNH to intensify joint efforts to win recognition of the Global Union Network.
The ultimate goal is to conclude a Global Framework Agreement (GFA) on industrial relations with FCA Group. About half of the world’s premier automotive manufacturers have signed GFAs.
“FCA is a global company with operations in many countries, and management acts globally and makes decisions that extend beyond country borders,” Jewell said.
“To avoid pitting workers from one country against workers from another country, international cooperation among their unions is absolutely necessary, especially during a time of crisis, when there are risks of plant closings and job losses.”
GFAs are non-binding, broad agreements between unions and companies that establish guidelines for company behavior on working conditions and other issues.
“Much work needs to be done to realize the potential of GFAs, and to ensure that companies follow through on their promises,” Williams said.
The UAW believes a constructive approach from FCA and CNH management and all of the unions will encourage finding solutions to problems in the mutual interest of the company and the workers.
Each union will report on:
• Issues related to current collective bargaining agreements
• The economic condition of the companies, including employment levels, products and investments
• Concerns about working conditions
“We must continue to learn from each other and to strengthen solidarity and alliance among the unions to find the solution in achieving company recognition of the Global Union Network,” Jewell said.
Helmut Lense, Auto and Rubber Director, on the World Works Councils, will be among those welcoming delegates.
“As companies extend and enforce their international activities, worker representations must build up transnational structures if they want to prevent workers becoming a pawn to globalized production orders and cross-border decision making,” Lense said.
“The ultimate goal of the international bodies is to create mutual trust for worker representation across borders in the spirit of solidarity.”